Call for Grand National ban after another tragic death

Posted on the 5th April 2003

National campaign group Animal Aid has called for the annual Grand National horse race to be banned following the horrifying death of Goguenard in Saturday's gruelling race that also saw favourite Iris Bleu carried off in a horse ambulance and Youlneverwalkalone injured.

Just 14 of the 40 starters finished. Goguenard fell several feet from a fence onto his back and a jockey then fell onto the horse’s stomach. Goguenard was trained by Sue Smith, wife of former showjumper, Harvey. She also trained The Last Fling, who broke his neck in last year’s Grand National.

Twenty-nine horses have now died since 1997 during the three-day Grand National meet – eight of them in the Grand National itself. Two perished in last year’s race. Coolnagorna was the other 2003 victim. The six-year-old was destroyed following Thursday’s St Austell Brewery Mersey Novice Hurdle Race, after falling and breaking a hind leg.

The deaths are more evidence of the suffering that is an intrinsic part of the Aintree event. Animal Aid believes that such carnage cannot be justified in the name of ‘sport’ and is therefore calling for a ban on the Grand National.

Notes to Editors

  • New NOP poll shows strong public opposition to Grand National. Despite enjoying massive favourable publicity and a virtual news blackout on horse fatalities, 41% of the public believe the Grand National is cruel to horses. A further 9% of respondents to an Animal Aid-commissioned NOP opinion poll – published Thursday April 3 – were in the ‘don’t know’ camp. Among women, there was a clear majority who regarded the Aintree event as cruel. Since 1997, 29 horses have died during the three-day Grand National meet. Four died last year, two during the National itself. Only 11 out of 40 starters managed to finish the deliberately punishing 30-jump, four-and-a-half mile race. The BBC, in its TV and radio coverage, effectively avoided mention of the Saturday fatalities and granted barely a sentence to the earlier deaths.
  • The NOP poll was commissioned to mark Horse Racing Awareness Week, organised annually by Animal Aid to coincide with the running of the Grand National. Last week the campaign group published a major new investigation based on industry data and scientific reports – called Riding For A Fall: the genetic time bomb at the heart of racing.
  • For more information call Andrew Tyler or Becky Lilly on 01732 364546.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews.

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